17 sought on ‘terror’ accusations for opening banner supporting hunger strikers in Turkey’s north
Detention warrants have been issued for a total of 17 people for opening a banner at a football match in support of two educators who have been on hunger strikes for over 150 days.
A group of Beşiktaş fans opened a banner in support of academic Nuriye Gülmen and primary school teacher Semih Özakça during a match between Beşiktaş and Konyaspor in the Black Sea province of Samsun on Aug. 6.
Gülmen and Özakça launched hunger strikes with a demand that they be reinstated to their jobs, after they were dismissed in state of emergency decrees along with thousands of others.
They were arrested on the 75th day of their hunger strike in May and protests for their release have been ongoing ever since.
The authorities have repeatedly claimed that they are members of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).
In a statement, Samsun Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said the banner, which read “Nuriye and Semih Must Live,” was opened in support of “the DHKP-C armed terrorist organization and its militants.”
“As part of the investigation carried out by the Samsun police, warrants have been issued for 17 people for making propaganda of a terrorist organization by opening a banner of the illegal DHKP-C armed terrorist organization and its militants,” the statement released on Aug. 10 read.
The Samsun Governor’s Office also released a statement on the issue, saying an investigation had been launched into those who opened the banner on claims of “making propaganda of a terrorist organization.”
“It was determined that a group coming from outside our province opened the banner at 20:05 p.m., that they managed to get the banner inside the stadium by hiding it in three pieces, shared the photos they took at the scene of the incident on Twitter, and then returned to the provinces where they came from,” the statement read.
Brawls erupted after the match when the fans of both teams burst onto the pitch.
Konyaspor head Ahmet Şan previously suggested that the club’s fans were “provoked” by the banner supporting Gülmen and Özakça.